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California Roadtrip Restaurants

Note: I'm reposting from the California board so I can get a wider variety of answers...

Hi all, a friend and I are making a long awaited road-trip from Napa to San Diego, stopping wherever, whenever along the way to see and eat everything in sight. Both of us have a huge appreciation for good food, regardless of how much it costs, and if anything, enjoy cheap, hole-in-the-walls as much or more than your typical 5 star place. As an example, in NYC I probably got more enjoyment out of the $1 dumplings at dirty, cheap Jessica's Dumplings in Chinatown than I did from Momofuku Ko. Given our current financial situations, we most likely won't be stopping at the French Laundry type places (as if we could get a table), but would consider one or two nice meals over our 10 day trip. What we really want to know is what places are so amazing or so famous that we should pull off of the PCH, or even make a 30 minute detour to try. We'll be going roughly: Napa, Monterey/Carmel, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, LA, SD, hopefully on the PCH for most of the trip. We'll spend about 4 days in LA, and most of the rest on the road, and we plan on stopping a bunch of places to see random sites. We can stop wherever we want, so I guess we're hoping people mention any must-stop places along the coast, and we'll make a point to go to as many as we can.

Any type of food is welcome, the more authentic and delicious the better, so in this case I would guess people will suggest some amazing taquerias and asian joints.

Thanks!!

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    1. So is the question where to stop in the Bay Area for one reasonably priced but good meal? That's what it sounds like.

      That's still a big question. My picks, given you're from the East Coast, would probably be Chez Panisse (still not cheap), Aziza (mid range), Slanted Door or Zuni...or along those lines. Maybe Shanghai Dumpling King if you like XLB dumplings.

      Beyond that and for the rest of the drive -- do a search for taco trucks for each region. You'll find them everywhere and they will be priced inexpensively. In LA and SD I'd look for Baja fish tacos.

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          1. The Marshall Store in Marshall Ca. about 30 miles north of SF has the best bar b q'd oysters on the planet. This place sits on Tomales Bay with wonderful views, but its no 5 star place, more like a country store. enjoy!